Evangelical High School Drama (Yes, we need Mainline)

While I’ve banished myself from ever doing a search of my own name because of some of the nasty things I find said about me across the internet, I do occasionally appreciate some of the mentions sent to me by readers.

Today someone sent a piece by Erik Parker at the Millennial Pastor, as he writes a very funny and poignant piece on the Evangelical cast of characters– listing us out by way of high school labeling. The piece was funny because I actually think he pegged most of us quite well, but also made some really good points on the role of Mainline in providing some stability while Evangelicalism continues to go through our current reformation.

You can read the full piece here, but as a spoiler, he correctly said that I’d be a member of the debate team– something that is doubly funny to me, because I actually took debate in high school… and failed the course.

A few of the funnier ones were:

“The Valedictorian (Rachel Held Evans). She is bright and well-liked, but constantly at odds with the football team for pointing out girls can play sports and the football team is getting too much money.”

The Debate Team (Zach Hoag, Tony Jones, Fred Clark, Benjamin Corey and others). They are passionate and articulate, and even agree about almost everything. But they often sound like they are fighting.

The Misunderstood Artist (David Hayward/Naked Pastor). Everyone loves his work, even if they don’t quite get it.

The Foreign Exchange Student (Sarah Bessey). Many love her, but the football team is suspicious because she has introduced this thing called “Jesus Feminism.” This new idea is causing quite the stir.

The timing of the article was perfect– I’m at C21 right now and read the article with Sarah Bessey, and many of the others are here as well.

His point in short is that there’s a lot of Evangelical drama– which is true. However, I don’t think this is bad thing– we NEED some drama if we love it enough to save it. To sit back and not raise our voices in prophetic witness to the tradition of “always reforming” would be the opposite of love. So for me, I will continue on in this cast of characters because I believe a better day can come for American Evangelicalism, and I’m going to continue pushing us forward in that truth even if I look down one day to find wood stacked around my feet and an angry mob holding torches.

Execution, literally or metaphorically, has often been the destiny of voices who call religion to repentance. I’ve accepted that this might be the direction I’m heading in, but I’m going to keep pointing to a better future until the first match hits the logs.

Erik also made a good point that, perhaps now more than ever, Mainline and Evangelicals need each other. I’m very appreciative of the stability our Mainline brothers and sisters provide American Christianity, and I wholeheartedly embrace the truth that we need each other. I hope his Mainline readers will hear and embrace his message– we do need you. Evangelicalism is going through a different transition as the old guard is making its way out, and as new voices emerge.

However, I ‘d like to add to the piece: please know, that we’re not making drama for the sake of making drama. We are fighting the battles, stirring the pot, having the debates, and reforming culture, because we are optimistic about the future. We believe that a better day is dawning, and that such a day need voices like ours to continue to usher it in.

It might be tempting to wash your hands of us. I totally understand, that from an external point of view, the drama might seem obnoxious. We just ask that you (a) view it in context of the fact that we are in transition and (b) realize that we need your help during this transition. I/we believe that you have wisdom to speak into our collective lives, and that by partnering together to further this Kingdom Jesus spoke of 2000 years ago, we both might see a few less sunsets and a few more sunrises.

About Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey, is an Anabaptist author, speaker, and blogger. His first book, Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus (Release date, August 2014), tells the story of his journey out of lifeless religion and into a fresh expression of Christianity. He is also a contributor for Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, Evangelicals for Social Action, Mennonite World Review, has been a guest on Huffington Post Live, and is one of the CANA Initiators. Ben is also a syndicated author for MennoNerds, a collective of Mennonite and Anabaptist writers. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Theology & Missiology), is currently a Doctor of Missiology/Intercultural Studies student at Fuller Seminary, and is a member of the Phi Alpha Chi Honors Society for biblical scholars. Ben lives in Auburn, Maine with his wife Tracy and his daughter Johanna.

You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


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